Council to revisit city-wide texting and driving ban - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Council to revisit city-wide texting and driving ban

Pictured: Mayor Pro Tem Jim Gerlt Pictured: Mayor Pro Tem Jim Gerlt
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - In the next few months, the Lubbock City Council will take another look at a ban on texting and driving within city limits.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Gerlt said he is concerned with texting and driving, but the decision isn’t as easy as it seems.

“It concerns me, as a driver, watching how many people are texting and driving,” Gerlt said. “Just outlawing totally, that’s tough. I’d like to see an ordinance where if you’re at a red light, you can check your phone and see if you get a text, and if it’s something you need to respond to then pull over and take care of it, but don’t drive and text.”

Gerlt said he has personally witnessed too many times that people have been on their phones and posed a danger to Lubbock drivers.

“I drive a pickup, so I sit up higher,” he said, “and I’m able to see what’s going on. Just last week there was a light where the driver didn’t go for a little while when the light turned green, and all of a sudden, boom, he took off and was getting on the Marsha Sharp Freeway while I was coming up the access road and I looked over and he was texting. He was merging onto the Marsha Sharp Freeway and not looking where he was going. I cannot tell you the number of times that I’ve had close calls and because I’m up high I can see in and I look over and they are texting and driving. It’s a dangerous thing in Lubbock.”

Gerlt said he believes if an enforceable ordinance is passed, it could save lives.

“It’s not a matter of protecting me from me,” he said, it’s a matter of protecting me from you or you from me. Just the number of accidents that occur and the near-misses that we have and across the states - now we’re seeing 37 states that have already done it. They’re just recognizing that this new technology has created something for us that is a hazard while driving.”

He said that ideally, any ban would be passed state-wide, but with the legislature’s failure to act, Lubbock needs to step up.

“We held off a couple of years ago because we wanted to see if the legislature would take it up,” he said. “And why pass an ordinance then that they may override or it’s not necessary, but it needs to be done on a state level? There needs to be consistency, no question about that. But, in the absence of our state legislature doing it, then the local municipalities have to step in and do something about it. I have a commercial driver’s license because I drive our church bus. According to state law, if I’m going to do anything on the phone, I’ve got to have a bluetooth, I’ve got to have the hands free device. That’s already in place for commercial drivers, but it should be in place for all drivers I think.”

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